Our Weekly Picks: January 18-24



"Four Samurai Classics"

Forget Tom Cruise's preposterous The Last Samurai (2003) — if you haven't already. The only true samurai films come from Japan, not Hollywood, and the classics of the genre all emerged during the country's post-World War II rebuilding years. With their tales of collapsing empires, and themes of corruption and courage, the films simultaneously addressed both historical and present-day struggles (and tended to star legendary actor Toshiro Mifune). The San Francisco Film Society unfurls four classics, starting with Masahiro Kobayashi's Harakiri (1962) and followed by three of Mifune's 16 collaborations with director Akira Kurosawa: 1961's Yojimbo, 1962's Sanjuro; and 1954's epic Seven Samurai. (Cheryl Eddy)

Wed/18-Thurs/19, $10–$11

SFFS | New People Cinema

1746 Post, SF


"Rock 'N' Sock Hop for Jonathan Toubin"

On Dec. 8 of last year a taxi crashes through the first floor bedroom of a Portland, Ore. motel. A man is found pinned under the car then taken to a hospital in critical condition. Just a few days earlier, Jonathan Toubin was DJing at the Knockout as New York Night Train, spinning 45s and running his wild and sweaty Soul Clap and Dance-Off. Hailing from NYC but with followers and fans in many places, Toubin is in stable condition but on a slow road to recovery. A number of friends have come together to raise money for his hospital bills. This SF benefit includes support from soul brother and Oldies Night hero DJ Primo, Ty Segall, and Shannon and the Clams. (Ryan Prendiville)

With Hank IV, Lenz, and more

8 p.m., $10


444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880



John Stanley

On the entertainment beat for the San Francisco Chronicle from the 1960s through the early '90s, John Stanley scored rare, one-on-one interviews with legendary actors and performers such as Clint Eastwood, Jane Russell, Lauren Bacall, James Stewart and plenty more. The local writer — who also hosted the TV show Creature Features on KTVU — has combed through his extensive files and archives and compiled some of them into his new book The Gang That Shot Up Hollywood (Atlas Books), a treasure trove of film history that Bay Area movie buffs are sure to devour. (Sean McCourt)

7 p.m., free

Books Inc., Opera Plaza

601 Van Ness, SF

(415) 776-1111


"Nameless forest"

The line between performance and performer, audience and artist, is an ongoing concern of much contemporary work. It's maybe all the more salient in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street eruption —where habitual passivity gives way to spontaneous popular action and organic community. The divide between art and social action comes in for some more suggestive blurring as YBCA presents the West Coast premiere of choreographer Dean Moss's cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural collaboration with Korean sculpture artist Sung-Myung Chun (set design), six dancers, and maybe a dozen audience members (the last invited onstage at the outset to join in the proceedings). The games, stories, movements, and meanings that follow are framed by Moss's three-part conceit, but also very much in collective hands. (Robert Avila)

Through Sun/21, 8 p.m.; Thurs., $5, Fri-Sat., $20–$25

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2728


Jesse & Aaron of Brazilian Girls

The rhythm section of Brazilian Girls, drummer Aaron Johnston and bassist Jesse Murphy, will blend live instrumentation with Djing at the Mighty, which should be very easy to dance to, considering some of the low-slung groovelines the band is know for. The collaborators are part of a band that broke through in 2005 with dynamic party music created by multi-instrumentalist Didi Gutman, Johnston, and Murphy, along with the sultry singing of Sabina Sciubba; you may have heard that "Good Time" track on commercials for a certain, non-heavy Dutch beer. Lately, the band has unofficially been on hiatus as members have been pursuing their own personal projects but a reunion may be in the works. (Kevin Lee)

With Dylan McIntosh of BLVD

9 p.m., $15–$20


119 Utah, SF

(415) 762-0151



The Meters

Talented artists like the Meters manage to maintain careers spanning decades. Consider the fact that mainstream audiences might not be able to identify one of their songs, and yet the Meters have been playing their own brand of jazz and funk since the '60s, and have performed with the likes of James Brown and Paul McCartney. The group's music never goes out of style. High energy, sensual, groovy, these masters of soul and syncopation have left a lasting impression. Go see them before it's too late. Last year, they hit Outside Lands, this week, Brick & Mortar Music Hall. The soul train keeps moving for all rhythm lovers ready to board. (Courtney Garcia)

With Korty & Friends feat. Members of Vinyl & The Monophonics

9 p.m., $25

Brick & Mortar Music Hall

1710 Mission, SF

(415) 800-8782


Passion Pit DJ Set

Yes, Passion Pit has this sweet electropop sound when it plays live as a band. And a lot of Passion Pit remixes on tracks from Bruno Mars, Phoenix, Tegan and Sara, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs keep in that same vein, with soaring melodies and catchy hooks. But Passion Pit: The DJ extravaganza (my title, not theirs) features the band's remixer and synthesizer specialist Ayad Al Adhamy opting for less sugar and more bass. Passion Pit tracks are sure to get some love (hit track "The Reeling" will likely make an appearance in one form or another), but with this event, Al Adhamy and gang show they are not afraid of delving into some electro house, techno and maybe even an oldie or two. (Lee)

With White Mike, Derrick Love, Nisus, Kool Karlo, Ant-1, DJ Drome

10 p.m., $10–$15

1015 Folsom

(415) 762-0151



"LevyDANCE's Salon"

The muses must have been with Ben Levy when he was looking for a home because he found it in a hidden-gems alley (8th Street between Folsom and Harrison) and, appropriately, named it Studio Gracia. The place is elegant, spacious and grass green; so why not call his annual January party/performance events "The Salon?" Sounded classy, perhaps a little decadent, but highly intriguing. No need to dress up, however, for this fun mix of socializing, dance watching, and a DJ dance party. In the middle of the evening (9 p.m.), ten choreographers — from quasi-famous to neophyte — will showcase five-minute snippets of works of their own choosing. You'll get a whiff of just how rich in contemporary dance this ol'town is. (Rita Felciano)

8 p.m., $10

Studio Gracia

16 Heron, SF

(415) 701-1300


The Screwtape Letters

Recent film versions of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia tales have hooked the Jesus fish pretty hard, but even atheists can appreciate the author's vivid imagination and talent for fantasy storytelling. J.R.R. Tolkien's homeboy was also unafraid to embrace darker themes (and satire), as evidenced by his 1942 novel The Screwtape Letters — about a bureaucratic demon advising his nephew on the fine art of tempting, with the end goal of securing a particular man's soul. Touring company Fellowship for the Performing Arts touches down with its award-winning theatrical adaptation, featuring lead demon Screwtape (Max McLean) re-imagined as "Satan's chief psychiatrist." How's that for evil? (Eddy)

Sat/21, 4 and 8 p.m.; Sun/22, 3 p.m., $29–$59

War Memorial Opera House

301 Van Ness, SF

(415) 394-4400



"Undercover Presents: Nick Drake's Pink Moon"

Before he died from an antidepressant overdose at the age of 26, English songwriter Nick Drake recorded Pink Moon, an intense, lugubrious album that's evidence of his immeasurable talent, and that keeps you in a state of wretched astonishment listen after listen. Arising from similar events with Doolittle and The Velvet Underground & Nico, "Undercover Presents: Nick Drake's Pink Moon" enlists a ragtag group of local musicians — a whopping 50 of them — to honor and reinterpret the monument that is Pink Moon. With the event's music director Darren Johnston, and artists like the Real Vocal String Quartet (who recorded on Feist's Metals), jazz singer Kally Price, and the Balkan Romani band Brass Menažeri, you'll hear idiosyncratic covers all night. (James H. Miller)

With Kapowski, David Boyce, Pocket Full of Rye, and more

7:30 p.m., $20

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011


WhoMadeWho DJ set

In theory, Denmark's WhoMadeWho is a rock band. (Named after an AC/DC song, after all.) But in practice, it's pitched for the club, and approaches both kinetic live shows and disco/electro infused records more like DJs, with a clear feeling for progression and mood. The trio is set to release its latest album (and second album in 12 months,) Brighter, in February on Kompakt, but to get a sense of what to expect from this DJ set, give a listen to drummer Tomas Barfod's killer Killing Time With Dancing mixtape, featuring their own tracks, a seriously stellar reworking of Siriusmo's "Nights Off," and (personal favorite) Connan Mockasin's "Forever Dolphin Love." (Prendiville)

With Sleazemore (Lights Down Low), Nolan Haener (Re:Body)

9 p.m., $5–$8

Public Works

161 Erie, SF

(415) 932-0955



Wolves in the Throne Room

With Celestial Lineage (Southern Lord, 2011), the most recent full-length release from Wolves in the Throne Room, the venerable Olympia, Wash. band continues to explore the weird Lovecraftian depths and textures immanent to the black metal genre. The new record is the group's most sonically defined, but the pervading sense of mystery, the exploration of a gnarly sonic wilderness that made Wolves' lo-fi output so thrilling permeates the album. Live, Wolves are ferocious, a raw tidal wave of blast beats and cascading guitars, and massive slabs of tone that wash over venue. The effect is as hypnotic as it is awe-inspiring. The band returns to San Francisco Monday night at Slim's. (Tony Papanikolas)

With Worm Ouroboros, Ash Borer

8 p.m., $16


333 11th St., SF




Greil Marcus

Music critic Greil Marcus wrote a notorious review of Bob Dylan's Self-Portrait for Rolling Stone Magazine in 1970. It began with four words: "What is this shit?" He's published definitive books and essays on Dylan, Elvis, Van Morrison, the Band, and dozens of others since then. His latest book, The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, takes a swing at the popular '60s band (its music, not its lead singer). "'Fire' — it's a door swinging open in the wind, seen from a distance," he writes in the prologue, musing on a bootleg recording of "Light My Fire" (that revered and abhorred song). It sounds like a line from Rainer Maria Rilke. And indeed, it takes somebody with the vision of a poet to say something new about the Doors. (Miller)

7:30 p.m., free


1644 Haight, SF

(415) 863-8688



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